Main cast: Heath Ledger (William Thatcher), Mark Addy (Roland), Rufus Sewell (Count Adhemar), Shannyn Sossamon (Lady Jocelyn), Alan Tudyk (Wat), and Paul Bettany (Geoffrey Chaucer)
Director: Brian Helgeland
A Knight’s Tale is a romantic medieval fare tailored to the young and hip. Hey, we have medieval tourney audiences singing to Queen’s We Will Rock You early in the movie, after all. Too bad the movie is dull and completely unhip.
The story is very simple. Back to basic, even. Lowly born William wants to be a knight, but only highborns can be knights. But when the knight he and his friends Wat and Roland are squires to expires in his armor (don’t ask, but it’s pretty funny), William decides to be the knight and have some fun. People, meet the newest hero in town.
That is, after William learns how to joust and all. This takes up a significant portion of movie time. Then it’s William snogging highborn Lady Jocelyn, who looks like one of those rich-daddy’s-girl-pretending-to-be-hip medieval babes. Hmm… if we are going to make statements about social equality, why doesn’t Will fall for a lowborn lass? Or is social equality for men only? Brian Helgeland, who also wrote the script, seems like a sexist fool. Okay, maybe he’s just a crummy storyteller.
Of course, babe here has a bad, bad suitor. Meet the Black Knight (well, he has to be the Black Knight) Count Adhemar. Incidentally, Rufus Sewell is such a gorgeous hunk he blows the wooden fratboy Heath Ledger out of the sea of testosterone. Bad, evil, and has all the best lines, he dances all over our dull, chivalrous, secretly-aristo-loving hero.
What else? Well, the tourney, the unmasking, the near-deaths, the heroine’s distress, the near failure, the final duel… you name it, this movie has it. It’s so predictable and tired, mechanical even, that all the deliberate anachronisms and the Geoffrey Chaucer gone hip thing seem like a pathetic attempt to mask its empty story.
A Knight’s Tale tries to be happening, but Baz Luhrmann doesn’t have to look over his back yet. Mr Helgeland still has a long, long way to go. Maybe it’s time to hit some Shakespeare.